Roast Tomatoes And Crottins

A crottin, which means horse dung or sheep’s dropping in French, is a small, button like goat cheese from France; some are for eating and others specifically for cooking with. For a while now a few American goat cheese makers have been producing them. St. John uses crottins from a goat herder in Barnet, surprisingly, so look out, there could be a crottin producer near you! The best known of these is probably Laura Chenel in California.

This recipe is located in the Vegetables section of the cookbook, but I can see this working much better as a starter or in place of a salad.

My old roast pan finally gave up the ghost last weekend, so I decided that it was time to upgrade to an All-Clad pan. What a huge difference having a quality roasting pan makes!

18 vine ripened tomatoes went into the pan with a head and a half of peeled garlic, sea salt, some pepper and copious amounts of extra virgin olive oil. I placed the whole thing in a very hot oven for about 28 minutes or so.

After the allotted time, the tomato flesh was starting to soften and the garlic had cooked fully through which meant …

… it was time for the crottins. My wife bought me six cute little buttons of cheese made in Loire, France. Crottin De Champcol is a cheaper, yet still delicious imitation of Crottin de Chavignol, the most famous goat cheese of the many varieties produced in the Loire Valley. These were young crottins, so their rinds were still white and the interiors were rich and creamy. I nestled all six crottins on top of the tomatoes and placed the pan back in the oven.

While the tomatoes and crottins roasted, I picked the leaves off a bunch of mint which I then mixed with the juice of a lemon, some salt and pepper, and a squirt of extra virgin olive oil. After a quick tossing, I had a very nice mint salad to sprinkle over the tomatoes and crottins.

At this point the crottins were soft and melty. The tomatoes had become even softer and the garlic had gotten to that lovely beige color that means they were now sweet little nuggets of joy. I pulled the roasting pan out of the oven and replaced it with a half-sheet pan with slices of sourdough bread sprinkled with olive oil for toasting.

Mr. Henderson instructs the reader to “Squish the tomato, garlic, crottin, and mint onto the toast, scoop up some of the garlicky, tomatoey oil, and eat.” With gusto, we complied. This dish is obviously reminiscent of bruschetta, but with the substitution of mint for basil, and the use of the lovely crottins, I’d really like to think that this is a superior cousin.

One down, one hundred and eleven to go.